Has your Instagram and Facebook newsfeed been packed with spring break pictures? Is every single guy and girl posting a new bathing suit picture every day? If you work hard for your body and are proud of it, by all means flaunt it, but if you are someone who is insecure do not feel the need to compare yourself. Many of these posts are edited, airbrushed, distorted, and promoting unhealthy habits. I think social media has made body image more of a concern because users tend to try to portray their best self or sometimes fake self to put on a perfect identity. As we discussed in class, we want to put our best foot forward and show our friends and family how great our life is, but sometimes it can be taken too far. We start believing that our lives can only be great if we show everyone and get satisfaction from all the likes.
Everyone creates a different identity online because no one is going to post the truth about themselves or the hard aspects of their life on their Instagram feed. I have noticed it has become worse among college students because it almost becomes a competition of who had a more fun vacation, or who went to the coolest bar/restaurant that weekend. People ask me how my spring break was and I say fun but it was bad weather for a few days, and they didn’t even realize that because no one ever posted on the bad days. The sunny and fun-filled days were the only ones documented. The worst aspect of this lifestyle is the emphasis of body image online. Healthy eating/living has grown so much popularity recently, which is great, but sometimes there are people who won’t go about it in a healthy way. They compare themselves to others and want to be able to show off their bikini body over spring break.
The progression this semester that I noticed BC seniors taking to get in shape for spring break was shocking. It wasn’t just a habit of going to the gym more often, rather they were going to the gym for longer periods every day, eating less, and comparing themselves to others on social media who were already on spring break. Once on spring break some girls would take pictures every day to be able to post them when we got home. It became about the picture, and no longer about feeling great in your own skin. I would even hear girls say, “Ew, don’t post that I look so fat”… It was all about what was posted online, not what was healthy. Even when we got back home some girls completely stopped their diets and gym addiction, but I have noticed some who are stuck on this bender with the wrong mentality.
I am not saying that social media is the sole driver of body image issues and confidence, but rather it gives everyone the platform for people to need the approval of peers about how they look. With every like they feel better and better about themselves. Sometimes these pictures are not even genuine but yet there is a satisfaction of getting likes on a picture that are of yourself but edited to look like your ideal self. It has aggressively progressed from covering pimples or brightening teeth, to photo shopping part of arms and legs out just to look skinnier. Celebrities are usually ones to blame but recently the most common people are peers and people that are seen on social media. It may not be Kim Kardashian anymore but that girl from high school who has 75K followers now on Instagram. The New York Times showed how Dove did a study that showed women are looking at woman more similar to them for beauty perception. Below are more statistics about Dove’s results of analyzing social media and its effect on women’s body image.
“That influence is not always a positive one. A 2014 Dove study found that women wrote 5 million disparaging tweets about beauty, most of which were about themselves. Much of the survey sample (78 percent) felt that the portrayal of women on social media is unrealistic. But 82 percent of women also said they believed social media can change prevailing standards of beauty.
As an article in TIME Magazine explains, social media is a “Toxic Mirror” and the “wellness industry online has launched an entire industry of fitness celebrities on social media.” Like I mentioned earlier there is has been a new wellness trend that is enforcing healthy eating, exercising, and healthy lifestyles in general. These accounts all post about their workouts, their food selection, and their body transformations. They can help motivate many people to adopt a new healthy lifestyle, but there are many people who adopt this mentality but not in the healthiest way. There are ways to pose to show a transformation picture, but the person may not even be working out or eating in a healthy way. Therefore, leading to the trend of showing off on Instagram and having it become fake and dishonest. As I scroll through my own newsfeeds I am happy for friends who work out and eat healthy and have a great body, however it is also sad to see some photos that are edited so much that their face is blurry and their “thigh gap” is edited into the photo. It is hard to keep a good body image when are you see on your newsfeed people skinnier, prettier, and “happier” than you. On the other, hand there are still plenty of accounts that promote beauty in many ways and encourage men and women to embrace who they are. Sometimes though social media becomes a platform for unintended peer pressure to be a better version of ourselves- and maybe not in the healthiest ways.